Newlyweds head orchestra at Second Baptist Church

WARNER ROBINS — When parishioners walk into the sanctuary for the Sunday service at Second Baptist Church on Moody Road, they’ll see an orchestra pit, with almost three dozen performers who play instruments ranging from violins to flutes to a harp.

The person directing the orchestra and playing the piano will be Dawson Hull, the recently hired director of instrumental music and the administrator of the Conservatory Music program at the church. His wife of almost three months, Taneea Hull, will be playing clarinet in the pit.

The couple met at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University where Dawson Hull, 25, was in the master’s program for piano and his wife-to-be was in the bachelor’s program for clarinet. The music conservatory, founded in 1857 by philanthropist George Peabody, was the first academy of music started in the United States, according to the institute’s Web site.

After Dawson Hull completed his master’s degree, the pair began planning their next step, debating whether Dawson Hull would go back to school for a doctorate degree. Taneea Hull jokingly suggested, “let’s just get jobs.”

On a whim, they went online and found a posting by Second Baptist Director of Music Gary Morton about the position.

Morton said he received about 3,000 responses to the job posting. But Dawson Hull stood out.

“His heart accentuates his musical talent,” Morton said. “He is very gifted musically and he has a heart for ministry.”

The extensive music program at the church is “to exalt Jesus and to make His praise glorious,” said Morton, who has been at Second Baptist for 21 years and started the orchestra in 1994.

“I felt like God was leading us here,” said Dawson Hull, who started work in April.

Dawson Hull is from Tennessee while his wife is from South Dakota. The two knew early on they wanted to be musicians.

It was Halloween, and Dawson Hull was about 9 years old. The theme for the Fall Festival at his church was to dress up as who you wanted to be when you grew up. Hull wore a tuxedo, complete with a cummerbund like a composer would wear.

Coming from musical parents, he started formal lessons at age 9 but had been playing on a piano since 5. His teacher was Alice Walker, and she has not only been Hull’s teacher but also his mentor, role model and friend. The lessons turned into two hours of teaching, then sitting and talking as friends.

“My parents were so supportive,” Dawson Hull said. “My mom and my dad would sit on the bench next to me and encourage me.”

One of Dawson Hull’s philosophies is that stewardship plays an important role in the music ministry. He wants everyone to play as best they can, to use the gifts they have been given from God, he said.

Dawson Hull attended Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., on a Dr. Betty Sue Shepherd Memorial Scholarship — the same one that his brother received. It was the first time siblings had received the prestigious scholarship, he said.

Taneea Hull said this new position “is the perfect job for him.” Before, her husband would switch back and forth from conducting to playing piano every other week. Now he can play piano at services and conduct as well.

The conservatory at the church is a music education program for ages 6 and up. It is private instruction and is open to anyone for nearly every instrument. There are 21 members of the conservatory faculty and 133 students.

Although Dawson Hull has dreams of writing scores for films, he said, “in terms of a dream job, for me (it’s) to do whatever God has in store for me. When my dream is God’s dream, it’s the right one.”

The couple displayed their talents at an August concert, where Dawson Hull played piano and his wife played clarinet. They are looking for other venues in Middle Georgia to share their music with other people and churches.

Taneea Hull has reserved space in Macon to teach students the clarinet. She has been playing the instrument since she was in fifth grade. Her band teacher persuaded her to pursue the clarinet at Peabody.

The couple will participate in a faculty concert at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at the church.

To contact writer Angela Woolen, call 923-5650.